The Brain And Alcohol
There are several affects of alcoholism on the brain. Some are short term and others can end up being permanent.
While alcohol definitely has effects on the brain there will be many differences with each individual person. What
are some of the effect on the brain?
Some effects that occur as a result of only a couple drinks are:
* slurred speech
* impaired memory
* difficulty with balance
* blurring vision
* delayed or slowed reaction time
These effects can also disappear quickly after the drinking has subsided. But for a person who drinks heavily
for a prolonged period of time there might be some more long term effects that remain even after the drinking has
subsided such as:
* a serious brain disorder known as WernickeKorsakoff syndrome
* hepatic encephalopathy caused by liver dysfunction due to drinking excessively
* reduction of cognitive functioning
Heavy drinking has wide reaching effects involving the brain. A heavy drinker could end up with permanent
problems which would require constant care from another person. They might not end up with a debilitating condition
but this will vary with each person and involve many factors.
The factors that influence the affects of alcohol on the brain are:
* the persons age
* what age a person started to drink
* how long a person has been drinking
* family history * genetic background
* education * prenatal alcohol exposure
* a persons general health
Factors also that influence the extent of the effects are of course, how much a person drinks and how often they
drink alcohol. While poor health in general or a severe liver condition might contribute to the brain damage there
might be those who simply develop the damage as a direct result of the alcohol. There is also an indication that
acetaldehyde which is a common neurotoxin can be more concentrated in the body as a result of the break down
process of alcohol in the body.
The enzyme known as alcohol dehydrogenase converts alcohol into acetaldehyde. Then acetaldehyde is converted to
acetate but this process can sometimes take a long time. But alcoholics have a tendency to quickly break alcohol
down into acetaldehyde; however they slowly change acetaldehyde to acetate. Consequently, long periods of exposure
to the acetaldehyde before it is converted to acetate can have some damaging effects on the brain.
Did You Know
Alcoholism effects men and women at different levels and over different amounts of
time but one thing that everyone who is an alcoholic has in common is that their bodies will be
negatively affected and damaged from the regular intake of alcohol.
Alcoholism affects all of the body systems including the brain. There are
short-term effects that last during the drinking phase but once the person is in recovery, those
effects go away. There are also long-term effects that are caused by the alcoholism and are
permanent damage to the drinker.
Some of the short-term effects of alcoholism are related to being drunk. These
include things such as weight loss, intoxication, drunk driving, poor decision-making, and
irresponsibility and reproductive disorders.
Once the alcoholic is sober, they may have to go through counseling in order to
learn better responsibility and decision-making tools but without the alcohol, the person is much
Of course being intoxicated goes away when the person stops drinking and they have
a tendency to gain weight because time that was spent drinking and not eating is replaced with at
least eating regular meals.
Alcohol alters the brain and inhibits its functioning. Interestingly, people will
feel like they are extra creative and will believe that they are "with it". However, alcohol is a
depressant and actually slows brain function.
Alcohol will actually inhibit creativity and productivity regardless of how it
makes the alcoholic feel. The regular use of alcohol will actually alter the reproductive cycle in
women and can cause infertility as well as other reproductive related problems.
The long-term or even permanent effects of alcoholism are more dangerous and
difficult if not impossible to recover from. Alcoholism causes the human brain to literally shrink over
time. This causes brain cells to die and can affect
memory, sight, smell, hearing, hormones, and the nervous system.
Alcoholism can also cause infertility in both men and women as well as permanent
birth defects in babies who are born to alcoholic mothers. Cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer can result from
excessive drinking as well as cancers of the stomach and breast, too.
One thing is certain; each alcoholic will experience various degrees of impairment due to the fact that each
person is vastly different. Some people who drink heavily will be more likely to develop brain damage than
Although alcoholism and its effects on the brain is a greatly researched subject there have been no definitive
conclusions drawn about any one variable as a determining factor in alcoholism and brain damage.
However, constant queries amongst the medical world that are attempting to discover any connections will remain
as an ongoing topic of interest.
There are some good indications, however, that a majority of alcoholics, who suffer from a cognitive condition
because of heavy drinking, will achieve some improvement in their brain function as they remain abstinent.
It is a concious decision to drink and get drunk. You can not become an alcoholic if you do
not drink alcohol.
The exact affects of alcohol on the brain are under much scrutiny in the medical field and research will
continue on how likely it will be to reverse the damages from alcoholism.
But with new medications on the forefront and much research going into the field of therapy made to help
promote the re-growth of new brain cells there is a glimpse of brightness in the area of alcoholism and its
damaging effects on the brain.